Monday, June 4, 2012

The Best Brownie I Ever Made

Difficulty level: mostly easy
Time consuming: not actively, but waiting for the brownies to cool before you cut them seems to take forever.

This past weekend, my husband went to Columbus for the night to watch the state high school rugby tournament. His team didn't make it this year, but it'd be pretty hard to convince him not to go to a rugby match and hang out with some old college friends. With the house to myself, I made these brownies from Brown Eyed Baker. She got the recipe from the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook, hence the name Baked Brownies.  I have never made brownies from scratch before, so I was a tad nervous at how they'd turn out.  These brownies smelled so amazing right out of the oven that, before they could even cool, I had cut into them, and I sorta felt like this:
Photo Credit:
 I seriously could've eaten the whole pan, they were that good.  My husband will be lucky if there are any left when he gets home.  God help me.

These brownies turned out so dense, and moist, and decadent, I was in brownie heaven.  These brownies do not have a cakey or chewy texture.  I guess they are closest to a "fudgy"  brownie.  I typically like chewy brownies, and Brown Eyed Baker has a recipe that I'll have to try the next time a brownie craving hits.

 Start by lining a light colored 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper.  The BEB recipe says to butter it first then line it, which to me defeats the purpose of lining it because then I'll still have to wash the pan.  So I did not butter my pan first.
This recipe called for 11 ounces of dark chocolate.  I bought the Ghiradelli 60% Cacao chips which came in a 10oz package and was a better deal then the Ghiradelli 60% bar of baking chocolate.  I tared my kitchen scale to the measuring cup and weighed in some semisweet chips until I hit a total of 11oz.
Put your butter, chocolate chips, and espresso powder in a large heat proof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water to melt, stir with a whisk frequently.
 While that's going (or do this first), measure the dry ingredients in a bowl - that's your flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  I always sift my cocoa powder because it's full of lumps.  Whisk to combine.

 If you forget to pull out your eggs 15 minutes ahead of time so they're at room temperature, stick them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes to help get them there.
 Don't forget to keep whisking your chocolate mixture.
 Take your chocolate off the heat and add your sugars.  BEB said to leave it over the pan of hot water, but I'm not really sure why, since you're not trying to melt the sugar.  She also said that adding your sugar should bring the temperature of your chocolate down to room temperature.  Mine did not.  If it didn't cool down, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down, because you're going to add egg next and you don't want to accidentally cook the egg.
 Take 3 of your eggs and mix them in a separate bowl.  It doesn't have to be super scrambled, but make sure to break the yolk up.  Add this to your luke warm chocolate/sugar mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Get the remaining 2 eggs and mix them in your extra bowl, then add to your chocolate/sugar/egg mixture, mixing until just combined..  BEB said that if you over mix in this step, you can end up with cakey brownies.  Adding the eggs in two additions helps prevent over mixing, as does breaking the eggs up in an extra bowl.  

At this point, you should also add vanilla, like the recipe calls for, but I forgot :(

Add your flour mixture to your chocolate mixture.  Stop using your whisk and get a spatula.  Fold the flour in until just incorporated.  You don't want to see more than small streaks of flour.  The batter will be lumpy.  If you over mix, you risk producing gluten with the flour which will change the texture and consistency of your finished brownie.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  Remove from the oven when a toothpick inserted in the center only has a few moist crumbs stuck to it.

Wait for it to cool completely in the pan before lifting the brownie out by the parchment paper overhang.  If you used a glass baking dish, let them cool in the dish for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack - the residual heat in the glass can continue to cook the brownies.  
...or be impatient like me and cut out a corner to taste.
Cut into desired sizes and enjoy with milk.  

Ready for the recipe?

Baked Brownies - from the Brown Eyed Baker.

1¼ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped if you are using a bar (or 10oz 60% cocoa chips by Ghiradelli and 1oz of any semisweet chocolate chips)
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature OR cut into 1" pieces so they'll melt easier
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a light colored 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper.

2)  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3)  Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.  remove the bowl from the heat and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined - the mixture should be room temperature.  If it's not, keep whisking until the mixture has cooled or stick it in your fridge/freezer for a couple of minutes (but not too long! You don't want it to be cold)

4)  In a separate bowl, mix/scramble 3 eggs together, then add to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. In your separate bowl, dd the remaining eggs, scramble, then add to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5)  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6)  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.

Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.

7)  Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 3 days.  If you want to serve them warm, microwave for 5-10 seconds to get that fresh-from-the-oven warmth.

[Brown Eyed Baker adapted this recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking]

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